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The Siege of Kazan in 1552 was the final battle of the Russo-Kazan Wars and led to the fall of the Khanate of Kazan. Conflict continued after the fall of Kazan, however, as rebel governments formed in Çalım and Mişätamaq, and a new khan was invited from the Nogais. This guerrilla war lingered until 1556.

Siege of Kazan
Part of Russo-Kazan Wars
Kazan storm chronicle.GIF
Illustration in chronicle
Date September 2, 1552 – October 13, 1552
Location Kazan, Khanate of Kazan, now Russia
Result Decisive Russian victory, end of Khanate of Kazan’s power
Tsardom of Russia
Qasim Khanate
Taw yağı 1
Khanate of Kazan
Cheremis and Ar warriors
Nogay cavalry
Commanders and leaders
Ivan IV "the Terrible"
Alexander Gorbatyi-Shuisky
Andrey Kurbsky
Yadegar Moxammat (POW)
Yapancha bak 
Zaynash morza (POW)
150,000 men,
150 cannons
unknown battleship
some siege towers
50,000 men, including civilians2
unknown cannons
Casualties and losses
unknown wounded
Around 65000 dead or missing (including civilians)2
more than 190,000 captured 2
many thousands displaced
1Involvement disputed
2 Kazan Chronicle; it is likely that this source underestimates Russian and overstates Tatar casualties


The siegeEdit

The Russian forces included streltsy as well as Moscow and Qasim irregular feudal cavalry, but the Muscovite artillery and sappers, both Russian and foreigners, played a vital role. At first they faced the Tatar garrison of Kazan, 10,000 Nogay horsemen led by the khan of Kazan, Yadegar Mokhammad, who originated from the Nogai Horde. Cheremiss units and Kazan irregular feudal cavalry had bases in forests north and east of Kazan respectively, with the stronghold of Archa as their base. Before the battle Russians had a fortress on the Volga, Ivangorod, later known as Sviyazhsk, some miles above Kazan. The Russian military engineer Ivan Vyrodkov had built this wooden fortress in 1551, when after the conclusion of peace, the right bank of the Khanate (Taw yağı) had passed to Russia. It would serve as a strong point for the capture of Kazan by the Muscovite army.

The 150,000 Muscovite army under Ivan the Terrible came under Kazan's walls and besieged Kazan on August 22, 1552 (Old Style). Russian cannons shelled the walls from 29 August. Soon they smothered the fire of large-calibre Tatar cannons. During the period from 30 August to 6 September Alexander Gorbatyi-Shuisky defeated the inner cavalry under Yapancha and the Ar units and burned Archa. Andrey Kurbsky defeated Cheremis troops. Sappers blew up the underground way to Kazan's underground drinking-water source.

Ivan Vyrodkov built on site a 12-metre high wooden siege tower (referred to also as a "battery-tower" to distinguish it from the pre-gunpowder siege engines) for mounting siege cannon. This revolutionary new design could hold ten large-calibre cannon and 50 lighter cannon, allowing a concentration of artillery fire on a section of the wooden wall or of the city, and played a crucial role in shattering Tatar resistance. However, the few cannon defending Kazan would first have to have been put out of action in order to make the tower effective, as it would otherwise have become an obvious target for any remaining artillery.[1]

On 2 October sappers (believed[by whom?] to have been led by the Englishman Butler, also known as Rozmysl in Russian chronicles) blew up the wall near the Nogay and Atalıq Gates. Russian soldiers entered the city. The civil population as well as Kazan's army opposed them. After desperate slashing some survivors were blockaded in the citadel. Then, after the capture of khan Yadegar Moxammad and of Nogai leader Zaynash, the defenders of the citadel tried to escape to the northern forests, but they were defeated. A number of Russians who had been captured in military campaigns from the Russian borderland and held captive in the Khanate were released, and a large massacre of Kazan Tatars took place, as well as the destruction of almost all Tatar buildings, including mosques.

Before the siege, Ivan IV encouraged his army with examples of the Georgian Queen Tamar's battles,[2] describing her as: "The most wise Queen of Iberia, endowed with the intelligence and courage of a man".[3]

Cultural resonanceEdit

Mikhail Kheraskov recounted the capture of Kazan in his epic poem, the Rossiada (ru) (1771-1779).


See alsoEdit

References and notesEdit

  1. ^ Russian Fortresses, 1480–1682 Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine., Osprey Publishing, ISBN 1-84176-916-9
  2. ^ История русской литературы, Дмитрий Дмитриевич Благой, Volume 1, p208
  3. ^ History of the Georgian nation, Kalistrat Salia, p189